A lot of people seem to have some preconceived ideas about this film. They see a young man on a lifeboat with a tiger and scratch their head about it. Why, I don’t know. That image alone intrigues me. That fact alone is exactly what made me read the best-selling novel upon which this film is based. Dude, A TEENAGER IS TRAPPED ON A LIFEBOAT WITH A BENGAL TIGER. What about that premise seems boring to anyone? Are you all that jaded? Should he be trapped on a lifeboat with a tyrannosaurus rex?
A lot of people seem to have some preconceived ideas about this film. They see a young man on a lifeboat with a tiger and scratch their head about it. Why, I don’t know. That image alone intrigues me. That fact alone is exactly what made me read the best-selling novel upon which this film is based. Dude, A TEENAGER IS TRAPPED ON A LIFEBOAT WITH A BENGAL TIGER. What about that premise seems boring to anyone? Are you all that jaded? Should he be trapped on a lifeboat with a tyrannosaurus rex? Ok, you want to get REALLY scary? Trapped on a boat with Honey Boo Boo. There. Have you wet your pants yet? Good.
And granted, we like our comic book movies around here, but have people forgotten that Ang Lee is an accomplished director? Ok, he chose a project that was not to his strengths. It happens. His Hulk was not good. But have we forgotten Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Eat Drink Man Women? The Ice Storm? Lust, Caution? He’s good at what he does, and he continues to prove that here with Life Of Pi.
Pi Patel is a boy growing up in India, the son of parents that own a zoo. When his parents decide to move to Canada for better employment, they pack up and take all the animals with them to sell to North American zoos. They all travel by freighter ship, but a storm causes the ship to wreck and sink. Pi barely escapes with his life, stranded in a 26 foot lifeboat with some of the animals: a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a 450 pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Life of Pi follows their desperate story to survive.
Ang Lee is now on my list of directors that knows how to use 3D technology in a meaningful way. As Pi drifts at the whim of the Pacific ocean, the diveristy of conditions and animal life are vast and eye-popping. I am wary of making any comparison to Avatar, as so many others seem to be willing to do, because these are vastly different films. But in the way they immerse us in unique places of nature is indeed similar. But that is certainly to Life of Pi’s benefit as these scenes are so beautiful – swarms of glowing jellyfish, bioluminescent plankton, schools of flying fish – all this and more fill the screen and our eyes. And what’s best is that these things all exist in the real world. We don’t need the fabricated world in Avatar to fill us with wonder, we have it all here, on Earth. So Cameron’s Avatar can suck it.
On top of that, there is some of the finest CG work here I’ve ever laid my eyes on. It’s pretty clear that shooting this film with a real tiger would be, well, impossible. Yes, it would literally be like trying to wrangle a nervous cat, but one big enough to eat people. The effects are so seamless that you forget that Richard Parker isn’t real. And how he gets his name is an amusing story. In fact, there is a fair bit of humor in the film so don’t think it’s all harrowing survival stuff.
Indeed there is much more to this than meets the eye. Life of Pi is not just about the challenges of survival, it’s also about man and beast, about man’s challenge to remain human. It’s about faith and religion, the power of that faith, about different kinds of faith, and about perception. Life of Pi has many levels, and like the proverbial onion, you could peel away at it for hours worth of discussion. Or, it is simply about a teenager trying to survive trapped on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. Either way it is a wonderful film, basd on a wonderful book by Yann Martel. I recommend them both.
Life of Pi has the potential to be an Oscar contender, as the perfomances are all great, Suraj Sharma as Pi, in particular, the adapted screenplay by David Magee is excellent, the effects are superb, and even the 3D is used well. It is absolutley beautiful to watch, and the end gives you so much to think about. It’s an easy 4 kittenhands from me. Do yourself a favor, go see this on the big screen.
~ Neil T.Weakley, your average movie-goer, hoping people give Life of Pi a look.